GTT Applauds AT&T's New Distraction

Competitive carrier looks to capture a bigger share of cloud connectivity market globally when incumbent players turn their focus elsewhere.

October 25, 2016

4 Min Read
GTT Applauds AT&T's New Distraction

DALLAS -- AT&T's plan to buy Time Warner has already drawn criticism from many sides, from Donald Trump to consumer groups to FCC commissioners, but GTT President and CEO Rick Calder is actually applauding the move. (See AT&T Shakes Industry With $85B TW Bid.)

GTT Communications Inc. competes with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) in offering cloud networking services to multinational corporations globally, and, as Calder told the Incompas audience here Monday, "the more they focus on being a content provider, the better we can compete with them" in the business services space.

Calder later said in an interview that AT&T is hardly alone in getting distracted by other businesses, citing mobile services as a major distraction for many players globally including BT and Orange (NYSE: FTE), and content is also a major play for Verizon, with its deals for AOL and Yahoo.

"Don't get me wrong, these are great companies and great competitors," Calder said. "But it's good for us, because these bigger companies have most of the market share. As they diversify their interests away from cloud networking services to multinationals and focus on mobile or content, it's an opportunity for us to gain market share."

Figure 1: On the Incompas Stage GTT Corp. President and CEO Rick Calder (right) addresses the Incompas crowd in a Q&A with Incompas CEO Chip Pickering. GTT Corp. President and CEO Rick Calder (right) addresses the Incompas crowd in a Q&A with Incompas CEO Chip Pickering.

GTT touts itself as operating one of the top five Internet backbones globally, having acquired seven service providers along the way to creating a large network footprint. It is now heavily focused on cloud networking services, offering Layer 2 VPNs and Layer 3 MPLS connectivity to the cloud, and burstable private network services that Calder says eliminate the need for enterprises to require bandwidth on demand. (See GTT Ready to Bust Out.)

"We have one of the most flexible commercial models for the WAN and Internet access," he comments. "As a result, I have zero clients asking for bandwidth on demand."

That flexibility starts by having all WAN services mapped to a platinum queue, with options for flat-rate services, fixed committed data rate services and burstable aggregate committed data rate services across multiple sites. So a GTT customer with a 50Mbit/s service delivered over a 100Mbit/s pipe can burst up to the full size of the pipe and pay only for the incremental extra usage. If the customer has three sites and a committed data rate of 50Mbit/s service to each, then the aggregate committed data rate is 150 Mbit/s, and the customer only pays extra for usage above that.

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In addition, Calder explains, GTT only measures the traffic at 95% of usage -- so if the client exceeds the committed data rate only briefly, chances are that won't even be measured.

"Our clients can burst as they need it or cap their usage or aggregate the bandwidth across their sites -- it's their choice, which is why they don't need bandwidth-on-demand," he said.

GTT is adding SD-WAN services to the mix by early 2017, to give its customers the option of sending some traffic over the Internet, while keeping high-value traffic on an MPLS connection, says Gina Nomellini, GTT's chief marketing officer.

That's one way the company is addressing what many enterprises are seeking -- more bandwidth at lower cost, to handle employee Internet usage, the increase in basics like email attachment sizes and the big driver which is the need to reach cloud-based applications from almost anywhere a mobile employee can roam, Calder notes.

That growth in traffic represents an opportunity for GTT to gain a foothold as the second or third provider to a multinational company looking for diversity, a backup provider, or service in a new market.

"We say, 'Try us out,'" he comments. "We know we can deliver a better service, because we are more focused on their needs than companies that also want to be media companies or content providers or mobile operators. We like to say, use us to replace the least favorite of your current providers."

Calder also sees security as an area in which GTT can grow faster, building on the managed security services it offers today and adding more customer choices. The company can offer unified threat management today, but "we haven't sold a ton of those services today, it's definitely something we can grow," he comments.

GTT joined the Incompas event as a major sponsor for this Dallas show and is pushing hard to sell its services here in Dallas. The company already counts many cloud providers and content delivery folks among its clients -- and it is content to stay in its lane as a network services company delivering those cloud connections, while competitors chase other dreams.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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